Jul 13, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Interdisciplinary Studies M.A./M.S.

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Molly Crumpton Winter, Ph.D., Program Director

Office: Mary Stuart Rogers Educational Services Gateway Building 140
Phone: (209) 667-3129

The MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies program at Stanislaus State is an innovative program intended for students whose interests and needs do not fit within traditional master’s degree programs. Each Interdisciplinary Studies student custom-designs a course of study, combining two or more disciplines into a program with a distinct, coherent theme. The program is designed for exceptional, individual cases and provides an opportunity for self-directed learning and an educational experience specifically relevant to a student’s unique needs.

While a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies prepares students for success in a multitude of careers, the degree is not intended to culminate in a credential or license. Students considering the MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies degree for the purposes of teaching at a community college should contact the appropriate community college’s district office regarding its policy governing the hiring of instructors and the requisite coursework; often, the degree can be tailored to meet these requirements.

Minimum Prerequisites for Program Admission

The first step is to apply for admission to the University. Applications submitted online at www.csumentor.edu are preferred. The next step is to get a commitment from at least one tenured or tenure-track faculty member to serve on your program committee. The signed “Faculty Commitment Form” must be provided to the Interdisciplinary Studies MA/MS Program before you apply to the Graduate School. Next, a score of at least 3.5 on the Analytical Writing portion of the GRE must be submitted. Then the student applies to the Graduate School at Stanislaus State. A paper version of the graduate application may be downloaded at www.csustan.edu/grad. After gaining admission into graduate studies at the university, the student applies for admission to the MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies degree program by completing a program proposal.

The successful student normally meets all of the following criteria and submits these required materials in order to be admitted to the MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies Program:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum of 18 upper-division or graduate semester units in the primary field(s) of the proposed program
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted
  • Participation in a program orientation with the Interdisciplinary Studies Director
  • A signed commitment form from at least one tenured or tenure-track faculty member
  • A score of at least 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section of the Graduate Record Examination Test
  • The submission of a program proposal in accordance with published deadlines

Note:  Click here  for further information on prerequisites for the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Child Development.

Contact the Department of Anthropology, Geography, and Ethnic Studies  for information regarding the Interdisciplinary Studies M.S.: Geospatial Analysis of Human-Environmental Change Concentration  

Application Timelines

It is imperative that students pay close attention to these deadlines and plan in advance for each step of the admission process. Application to the Interdisciplinary Studies program involves the creation of a unique degree program from start to finish; the writing of the program proposal requires careful thought and substantial consultation with the faculty committee. Upon submission, the proposal will be reviewed by the University Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, and revisions may be required.

No more than nine (9) units of completed coursework prior to admission to the program may be included in the program. Completed coursework includes transfer units, units taken at Stanislaus State in a prior semester, and current units in progress (incomplete grades are considered as work in progress).

Procedures for Application to the Interdisciplinary Studies MA/MS Program

  • The student attends an orientation meeting with the Interdisciplinary Studies Director.
  • The student selects a program committee chair and, in consultation with the chair, chooses two additional faculty members to constitute the student’s committee. The committee must include tenured or tenure-track faculty from at least two different disciplines represented in the program’s coursework.
  • Student must submit a “Faculty Commitment Form” signed by at least one faculty member before applying to the Graduate School.
  • Student submits a GRE Analytical Writing score of 3.5 or higher before applying to the Graduate School.
  • Student applies to the Graduate School.
  • After gaining admission to the Graduate School, the student completes the “MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies Program Proposal” and “Program Proposal Preparation Checklist.”
  • The student gets all program committee members to approve the program proposal prior to submission to the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.
  • The Interdisciplinary Studies Director assesses the proposed program’s compliance with the technical requirements for Interdisciplinary Studies. If these are not met, the proposal will be returned to the student for revision and resubmission.
  • The student and the student’s committee chair are invited to attend the meeting of the University MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies Committee at which the student’s proposal is reviewed. The student and the committee chair may present information and may be asked questions. The admission decision will be communicated in writing to the student’s committee chair, typically within one week following the meeting, and to the student the following week.
  • The student’s committee, the department chairperson of the student’s committee chair, the MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program must approve the proposal.
  • When the student receives written approval by the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, the student will be admitted to the program in Classified Standing.
  • Any changes to the approved program require the approval of the student’s committee chair, in consultation with the committee members, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.
  • All other University procedures and requirements for the completion of the graduate degree, including the thesis/project, are applicable. Please consult the University Catalog and the Graduate School.


The “Program Proposal for MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies” must follow the prescribed format. The proposal must demonstrate the student’s high level of analytical and communication skills developed during undergraduate work. The GRE Writing Assessment score, the undergraduate and postbaccalaureate grade point average, and undergraduate preparation are used as indicators for success in the graduate program. The IS Committee welcomes quality proposals and employs the following criteria in its deliberations:

  • Adherence to the technical requirements of the program (number of units, etc.);
  • Clarity and completeness of the proposal, including the student’s written communication skills in English;
  • Thorough, clear statement of the academic objectives of the program;
  • Clear explanation of how the program contributes to the student’s professional objectives;
  • Cogent justification for a multidisciplinary program;
  • Explanation of the coherency of the program (the relatedness of the subject and title and the selection and relationship of the courses); and
  • Strength of the student’s academic record and ability to complete a program of individualized graduate studies.


The IS Committee will consider a proposal when (a) all program requirements are met, (b) the program proposal form is completed, (c) a comprehensive, essay-format response to the seven questions listed on the program proposal form is completed, and (d) the GRE Writing Assessment score has been received.

Please use the following checklist before submitting your proposal to the Graduate School:

  1. The admission requirements are met. A minimum GRE Writing Assessment score of 3.5 is submitted with the proposal.
  2. The program includes a minimum of 30 semester units for an MA or 36 semester units for an MS.
  3. Only 4000* and 5000-level courses are counted toward the semester units required in the MA/MS Interdisciplinary Studies program.
  4. At least 21 units for the MA or 25 units for the MS of 5000-level courses are included.
  5. A minimum of 6 (for MA) or 9 (for MS) semester units in one or more disciplines other than the primary field of concentration are included.
  6. A maximum of 9 units of independent study are included in a student’s program. Independent study courses are described in the student’s proposal in detail equivalent to a catalog course description and the instructor of record is listed for each independent study course. Courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  7. A 4000*/5000-level research methods course appropriate for the discipline(s) is included in the program.
  8. The proposal fully describes the method for the satisfactory completion of the CSU graduate writing competency requirement.
  9. Six (6) units of project or thesis work are included in the student’s program. Prior to enrolling in thesis/project units students must have an approved Prospectus Form on file with the Graduate School. An oral defense is required.
  10. A maximum of 9 units of transfer credit are included in a student’s program. Extension credits are not acceptable.
  11. No more than 9 units completed prior to admission to the program are included in the student’s Interdisciplinary Studies program.
  12. The IS program normally limits the CR/NC grading option to field studies, practica, and internships, not to exceed 20% of the required coursework.  Exceptions will be reviewed by the IS Director.
  13. No grade below “B-” may be applied toward the IS degree.  Exceptions will be reviewed by the IS Director.
  14. Competency in reading a foreign language, or an approved substitute competency, and/or a comprehensive examination may be required by the master’s committee.
  15. The program title (not to exceed 5 words) reflects the interdisciplinary focus of the program. The names of disciplines for which traditional degree programs exist may not be used.

*Any 4000-level course offered within a student’s IS program must be acknowledged by the instructor as containing assignments and grading which meet the higher standards of a graduate course. The methods a professor imposes to ensure more rigorous standards for graduate students are a matter of instructor preference. Additional readings, research papers, essay questions on examinations, and oral presentations are often employed to satisfy this requirement. Within the first two weeks of each semester, a “Verification of 4000-level Coursework” form verifying the instructor’s acknowledgment of this requirement must be submitted to the Graduate School for each 4000-level course.

Requirements for Continuation in the Program

  1. Students in the Interdisciplinary Studies MA/MS program must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the degree.  No grade lower than a “B-” will be accepted in courses taken to satisfy degree requirements. Students who fail to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and will be notified of the conditions required for removal of the probation. Failure to meet the conditions will result in disqualification.
  2. All requirements for graduation must be completed within 7 years of initial admittance (either provisional or classified) to the Interdisciplinary Studies MA/MS program. Students may be put on probation of disqualified for repeated withdrawal or failure to progress toward degree completion.

Student Learning Goals

A student in the Interdisciplinary Studies program is expected to demonstrate:

Competence in Interdisciplinary Studies

  1. Advanced knowledge of the disciplinary knowledge, skills and values of their interdisciplinary study, the relationships among these disciplinary courses, and the ways in which these disciplinary perspectives are integrated and transformed through interdisciplinary studies.
  2. Ability to analyze complex issues, draw reasoned conclusions, and evaluate effectiveness of proposed solutions to problems.
  3. Understanding of global perspectives appropriate to the disciplines.


  1. Ability to write effectively in a variety of written and quantitative formats appropriate to the disciplines and the differing audiences and contexts.
  2. Ability to express ideas orally, with attention to audience and effectiveness of delivery.
  3. Advanced oral and written communication skills, complemented by ability to access and analyze information from a myriad of primary, print, and technological sources.

Research and Scholarship

  1. Advanced knowledge of research and scholarship appropriate to the interdisciplinary study.
  2. Ability to work as individual researchers/scholars as well as in collaboration with others in contributing to the scholarship of interdisciplinary studies.

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